Spotlight on: Pamela Butchart
'Spotlight On' gives you the chance to learn more about the work of authors, publishers and illustrators connected to the Bookbug programme. This month, Pamela Butchart, author of Yikes, Stinkysaurus! answers some questions about her work.
Tell us a little bit about your work.
I’m a picture book and young fiction writer. All of my books are humorous (or at least I like to think so!)
My first two debut books were published this month. Yikes, Stinkysaurus! is published by Bloomsbury, and Baby Aliens Got My Teacher! is published by Nosy Crow. Bizarrely, both books ended up being published on the 9th of January.
I have six further pictures books coming out, published by Bloomsbury, and a further six fiction titles with Nosy Crow (which is a little bit too exciting, and sometimes causes me to spontaneously squeal).
What is your earliest reading memory?
Reading the Mog series by Judith Kerr, particularly Mog and the Baby. I used to gaze at Judith’s illustrations for ages, especially the illustration of Mog tucked up tight in a pram with a little bonnet on, and the illustration of the baby eating Mog’s fish dinner. These illustrations are some of my strongest childhood memories. I completely fell in love with the Mog books as a child, and continue to love and treasure them as an adult.
Who or what is your biggest influence?
If it wasn’t for Judith Kerr’s Mog and The Tiger Who Came to Tea I don’t think I’d be a writer today. Judith Kerr is my all-time favourite author/illustrator. It was an absolute dream come true when I got to meet with her recently and chat about Mog.
Are there any contemporary picture books you wish you’d written or illustrated?
Yes, LOTS! I would have particularly loved to have written all of Cressida Cowell’s Emily Brown picture books – they’re hilarious!
Aside from the wonderful world of picture books, which genres or authors do you like to read?
I absolutely love humorous fiction books. Some of my favourites are:
The Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies
Mr Gum by Andy Stanton
Socks are Not Enough by Mark Lowry
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
Penny Dreadful by Joanne Nadin
The Donut Diaries by Anthony McGowan
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Briefly describe your typical working day.
Pet cats until they eventually release me and let me bathe.
Ponder morality, epistemology and the very nature of existence for 8 hours. (It’s ok, I’m a secondary school philosophy teacher, not just a Big Thinker.)
Go to the library and write about parping dinosaurs and baby aliens.
Apologise to cats profusely for daring to be gone for so long.
Apologise to fiancé for being gone for so long (he is always much less upset than the cats, so no need for profuse apology. Regular is fine.)
How do you get out of a creative rut?
I usually go back and read my favourite bits of books that I’ve finished, and try to get back into the frame of mind I was in when I was writing that particular section of the story.
Other than that, I tend to eat things and stare out the window at pigeons. I like pigeons.
What is your top tip for budding authors or illustrators?
It may sound obvious (and maybe even a bit cheesy) but my number one tip for any aspiring writer would be to write for yourself. I often read this, but I don’t think I fully understood what it meant until the first time I burst out laughing at my own book while I was writing it. I thought it was hilarious! Basically, if YOU find your own writing funny, exciting, or scary, I think that’s a good sign. It means you’re enjoying it! And if you enjoy it, then there’s a much better chance that others will too.
Can you give us an insight into what you’re currently working on?
I’m currently working on a picture book called Yikes, Ticklysaurus! and a young fiction book called My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat. Such fun.
Finally, tell us a random or surprising fact about yourself.
I like cats. Surprised? No?? Ok. Well, I used to walk around my house with a rat on each shoulder when I was little. These were not random rats (hmm, 'Random Rats’, possible book title?) They were my pet rats, Jeemie and Jerry, and they were probably the best rats that ever lived.